Wednesday, 18 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 8 : 1b-8

This was the beginning of a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem. All, except the Apostles, were scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria. Devout men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church. He entered house after house and dragged off men and women, and had them put in jail.

At the same time, those who were scattered went about, preaching the word. Philip went down to a town of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. All the people paid close attention to what Philip said as they listened to him, and saw the miraculous signs that he did. For, in cases of possession, the unclean spirits came out shrieking loudly. Many people who were paralysed or crippled, were healed. So there was great joy in the town.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 7 : 51 – Acts 8 : 1a

Stephen said to the Council, “But you are a stubborn people, you hardened your hearts and closed your ears. You have always resisted the Holy Spirit just as your fathers did. Was there a prophet whom your ancestors did not persecute? They killed those who announced the coming of the Just One Whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the Law through the Angels but did not fulfil it.”

When the Council heard the reproach Stephen made against them, they were enraged and they gnashed their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, fixed his eyes on heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus at God’s right hand, so he declared : “I see the heavens open and the Son of Man at the right hand of God.”

But they shouted and covered their ears with their hands and rushed together upon him. They brought him out of the city and stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen prayed saying : “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Then he knelt down and said in a loud voice : “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he died. Saul was there, approving his murder. This was the beginning of a great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem.

Monday, 16 April 2018 : 3rd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 6 : 8-15

Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Some persons then came forward, who belonged to the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia and Asia. They argued with Stephen but they could not match the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.

As they were unable to face the truth, they bribed some men to say, ‘We heard him speak against Moses and against God.’ So they stirred up the people, the elders and the teachers of the Law; they took him by surprise, seized him and brought him before the Council.

Then they produced false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking against our Holy Place and the Law. We even heard him say that Jesus the Nazarean will destroy our Holy Place and change the customs which Moses handed down to us.” And all who sat in the Council fixed their eyes on him, and his face appeared to them like the face of an Angel.

Saturday, 14 April 2018 : 2nd Week of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 6 : 1-7

In those days, as the number of disciples grew, the so-called Hellenists complained against the so-called Hebrews, because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.

So the Twelve summoned the whole body of disciples together and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God to serve at tables. So, friends, choose from among yourselves seven respected men full of Spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them to this task. As for us, we shall give ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.”

The whole community agreed and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and Holy Spirit : Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenus and Nicolaus of Antioch who was a proselyte. They presented these men to the Apostles who first prayed over them and then laid hands upon them.

The Word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly and even many priests accepted the faith.

Sunday, 14 May 2017 : Fifth Sunday of Easter, Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Acts 6 : 1-7

In those days, as the number of disciples grew, the so-called Hellenists complained against the so-called Hebrews, because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 

So the Twelve summoned the whole body of disciples together and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God to serve at tables. So, friends, choose from among yourselves seven respected men full of Spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them to this task. As for us, we shall give ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.”

The whole community agreed and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and Holy Spirit : Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenus and Nicolaus of Antioch who was a proselyte. They presented these men to the Apostles who first prayed over them and then laid hands upon them.

The Word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly and even many priests accepted the faith.

Saturday, 26 December 2015 : Feast of St. Stephen, Protomartyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the celebration of the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr or the Protomartyr of the Church and the Faith, which means that he was officially recognised to be the first to lay down his life for the sake of God and for the sake of his faith after the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

St. Stephen, if we read the Acts of the Apostles, was one of the seven holy servants of God whom had been chosen by the Apostles themselves to be a new order of those who have been chosen to distribute the graces, goods and blessings of the faithful to those who have less, the poor ones and the less fortunate ones. He was one of the seven original deacons of the Church.

He served the people of God faithfully and the Holy Spirit was with him, and filled with the Holy Spirit, he was filled with courage and strength to proclaim the good works of God’s salvation to the people, and to testify courageously and without fear the truth which had been revealed through Jesus Christ, the Lord and Saviour of the world. And yet, we also heard of those who sought to destroy the faithful and the Church, those who refused to believe in the truth.

Yes, and these persecuted the faithful people of God, and St. Stephen was the first to bear the brunt of their attacks and their wrath. He suffered and was persecuted, and yet if we see his great testimony in the first reading today and in the Acts of the Apostles, then we all should know how courageous and fearless he was as he spoke in the defence of his faith to the Lord, the true faith in the Lord Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.

He did not even fear for his life or be discouraged by the whole multitudes of those who sought to silence him and destroy him, the whole assembly of the Sanhedrin, the elders of Israel and the Pharisees. Instead, just as our Lord had spoken in the Gospel today, the Holy Spirit gave St. Stephen the strength, the inspiration, the courage and the eloquence of words to preach the Good News of God’s salvation to them.

And he led an exemplary Christian life to the end, and imitated Jesus our Lord Himself in what He had done on the cross. That is when he had been tortured and brought to die by stoning, he forgave his accusers and enemies, just as Jesus had done Himself, and he surrendered himself completely to God Who had guided him and protected him all those while.

One may then wonder how come we are talking about martyrdom and death, the death of a faithful servant of the Lord on the day just after the revelry, the merrymaking and the joy of the Christmas day? Indeed, as the peak of the Christmas celebrations last for a week, this is still right in the middle of the Christmas celebration and joy. Therefore, why is this so, brethren in Christ?

That is because, the nature of Christmas and its reality cannot be separated from what we remember today in what St. Stephen and also the many other martyrs of the Church had done. These holy men and women were those who had dared to stand up for what they believe in the Lord God Who came down to us in the form of Man, and Who had given up Himself to be crucified and to be our sacrifice for our salvation.

Despite the opposition, the ridicule and the enormous pressures being meted out against them, and the threat against their own safety and their very own lives, these holy men and women, and chief of all represented by the very first one to be counted among them, St. Stephen, all of them had shown the resolve and the desire to remain faithful to the Lord despite all odds.

And let us ask ourselves, that if God had loved us so much and gave us so many blessings and graces, to the point of even giving Himself for our sake, to suffer and to die for us, shall we not do the same for us as well? God does not require long prayers or commitment of the flesh and the words, but what He truly desired from us is our love and complete dedicatiod to Him. May Almighty god strengthen our resolve to live our lives ever more devoted and commited to Him in every way conceivable.

Therefore, remembering the examples of these holy martyrs, and chief of all, St. Stephen, let us all remember what we have rejoiced for on Christmas day yesterday, and as we continue to glorify the Lord and rejoice in this Christmas season, let us all remind ourselves of the need to be courageous and to be willing to defend the same thing that we believe in, if we are to resist the temptation of sin and of the world, and remain true to the calling which God had given us through Christ, our Lord. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 26 December 2015 : Feast of St. Stephen, Protomartyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 10 : 17-22

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “Be on your guard with people, for they will hand you over to their courts, and they will flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of Me, so you may witness to them and the pagans.”

“But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say, or how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. For it is not you who will speak, but the Spirit of your Father in you.”

“Brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of Me, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved.”